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First a disclaimer: I love any and all bookish stuff. I am not discriminating. I hoard collect it all, so I promise, I love all the bookish junk. I never turn down a bookmark, or even a button, and goodness knows I don’t have a clue what the point of those things are.  But I know that often, people want to send stuff that will you know, be used! So Shannon is here to help. This is the stuff that I not only say “oooh shiny!” about, but that has been useful and/or novel.

Pen & Paper


Is anyone really ever going to be like “nah, hard pass on the useful writing instrument”? I think not. I basically always need a pen, and I also always need paper, so this is a win, in swag terms. I will think of you every time I write a grocery list, Bookish Thing Being Promoted.

Nail Polish


“Well,” you say. “Things have sure taken a turn into the unnecessary in a jiffy”.  PISH POSH, my friends. Nail polish is awesome. I mean, look, I am not a girly-girl, but I do love when my toes look pretty. And don’t think that I am not more excited about the polish because it’s bookish- even though I am probably the only one who will realize. Just think of the possibilities:

Random Person: Hey, love your toes! Where’d you get that great color?

Shannon: Oh, just from this awesome book/author/publisher. It’s for Bookish Thing Being Promoted. You should check it out!

Rando: I will! Give me the links, and I will shove money at this, all because we have talked about your toes.

Fine, maybe that is an exaggeration, but you get the gist. I will wear your book colors with pride.



I could not figure out a good way to take a picture of tshirts so… here’s me and Val with a free Mockingjay P2 shirt.

Speaking of wearing… one can never have too many shirts. Because you never know when you’ll need one. Even if someone isn’t wearing it to like, somewhere fancy, they’re probably going to at least wear it when they’re schlepping through the grocery store or something. And then, the same conversation from above will happen!

Water Bottles/Mugs


I feel like these are delving into “things we need in the event of an apocalypse” territory, but still. I drink things like water and coffee, and when bookish things house those beverages, it makes them extra special. Kind of. Either way, the occupants of my kitchen are totally aware of Half Bad now that we’ve had its hot chocolate. Just saying.

Playing Cards


This was a new one for me. And I  mean, while we didn’t exactly play any epic card games at BEA, we could have and should have, and that is the real point. Next year, I will be ready with more wine and more cards. Maybe I’ll play a round of Solitaire or 20 while I wait. Also, in the event of an EMP, I bring the entertainment now.

This Ruler


Okay, this is a stretch, but hear me out. I use this First Ladies Ruler from BEA ’15 literally every day. I am always measuring graphics on my laptop to make sure they’re centered. Or measuring envelopes, or just checking out how many years Abigail Fillmore was First Lady for. I know it’s weird, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this was the most useful freaking swag I have ever obtained.

And a few things that are conference-specific “needs”:



At a conference, I legitimately cannot have enough totes. During the day, they are useful for their intended purpose. After, they are awesome for cushioning while you’re packing your treasures. At home… well, at home all but one or two sit in my closet until I rehome them. But they will get used at a conference and if they’re the prettiest- or even just the sturdiest- I will totally love them forever. Especially that one that is also a towel, because that’s pretty genius.

Ass Pillow


Yeah, this one has great conference uses: One, being an ass cushion. Because who wants to sit on cold, hard cement when you can instead sit on a nice foam faux-shield? Not I. Bonus points for being crazy unique and encouraging friends to have inappropriate duels. Sadly, I saw none. **Ass Pillow© coined by Val @ The Innocent Smiley**

And a few things that may not be useful, per se, but that I freaking love anyway:



I love a magnet, and here’s why: It never bends or gets crushed and makes me sad, it never gets lost because it sticks to metal, and it makes my refrigerator look pretty.

Coloring Books

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More of these, please! Of course I want to reimagine all the covers in outrageous colors! And fine, I probably want to color the authors’ hair rainbow colors, because I am an actual toddler. Shhh.

Okay guys! Let’s hear from you: which bookish swag do you simply need, and which could you probably do without?

Posted July 8, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 52 Comments

52 responses to “Swag With Swagger: Bookish Crap You’ll Actually Use

  1. I love your swag!! The T-shirts are such a win-win because hello?? walking billboard!! I would also never turn down nail polish. Although that’s definitely less advertisement since you can’t tell by looking at someone’s nail color that it’s meant to represent a book. I loved the Six of Crows socks they recently gave out. Who doesn’t like socks??

    • Aw thanks! And girl, I NEED those Six of Crows socks! NEED. ? And true, the nail polish isn’t great advertising, but I love it! (Of course, pretty sure “Shannon likes this” isn’t on any publisher’s checklist sooo… ?)

  2. I love all the swag! I totally agree that everything is useful. I also love when I get bookmarks (and seriously, what’s more useful than a bookmark?). Oh, and maps/posters. I can always use more stuff for my walls. I do admit to using the poster maps whilst reading a book, ya know, when I got lost in the grisha trilogy.
    This is a really fun post Shannon!

    • Aw thanks! And I agree, I love ALL the stuff, but I have a terrible habit of never actually hanging things on my walls- including the things I have actively sought out or purchased! Oops? But I LOVE the idea of using a poster map while reading the book- that is PERFECT!

  3. Omg I’m SO jealous of how American publishers do swag!! I think in Australia the most swag I’ve ever got is a bookmark.? BUT! I have had an ARC sent to me gift wrapped and with a packet of tissues…(very very comforting omg) SO THAT WAS EXCITING. hehh. But nothing like specially designed like this. It’s awesome. You guys are so lucky hahah. I THINK THE TEE SHIRTS ARE GREAT AND OMG THE MUG. I have an insane love of mugs. <3
    Also I'm 100% sure wearing bookish nailpolish will sell books. That conversation sounded SO legit.
    The playing cards are AWESOME. But the totes seem like they'd be the most useful. One could parade around libraries and bookstores and just about anywhere with them and basically proclaim your allegiance to a book, right?!? Currently I take a tote to the library that says "I Love the Library" because I'm a huge suck-up to the library apparently. #noshame

    • Aw man, Australia needs to get its swag game together! The tissues are a nice touch though- talk about useful!

      And totes ARE useful, but if I am going to bring a bookish tote into the wild, it shall be my Paper Fury Original Tote. I would be afraid to go to a bookstore with a ton of totes though, I feel like I’d be looked at suspiciously, as dare I say, a book thief!? Liesel’s got nothing on me in a bookstore with an armload of totes, basically.

  4. Dude, you have the coolest swag. I love that Magnus ass pillow haha! And I don’t care what anyone says, nail polish is a great thing to have. As well as PENS. GLORIOUS PENS. Can never have too many pens, if you ask me.

    • Aw thank you! And right, the ass pillow is the coolest EVER. You can definitely never have too many pens! I always need a pen- always. And I am more likely to buy a book if you give me a pen, that is just a fact. Double it if we’re talking nail polish. ?

  5. I love your swag. I own exactly 0 bookish items. I’ve always avoided them because I can’t stand clutter, and I thought the swag would just sit around until I gave it away. T-shirts and totes might be cool, though. I do need to wear clothes and carry groceries (unfortunately).

    • Ooooh you would not do well at my house, I think I am a borderline hoarder (not even kidding- it is REALLY hard for me, emotionally, to get rid of stuff, Idk why!) And there you go, you just need to find useful, non-cluttery swag! 😀

  6. Tammy V

    I love all those. I also love coasters. Use them at work and home and like changing them out. Not a fan of pins because I have nowhere to put them. Not on my totes/bags because of making holes. Love totes/bags, btw. I use the water bottles, don’t use lip balm (too picky about sanitary stuff). The writing pens usually don’t work well but love notepads/journals. Hand sanitizer is good.

    • OOH coasters are good! I don’t have any of those, that’s awesome! And I agree with the pins- also, they sometimes get pushed up against other swag, leaving marks, which I do NOT approve of! The Fierce Reads pen is of quite high quality, I must say! And where do we get hand sanitizer?! That is a fabulous swag idea!!

  7. I love bookmarks as I collect those. I have won two t-shirts and still wear one of the regularly and the other one now and then. Oh and measuring spoons, I won a swag giveaway a blogger did and she sent me measuring spoons, which I use regularly. They are so handy, especially as measuring spoons are hard to find here. And pens, notebooks etc are always handy. I actually use a pen swag I once got from an author for my beta read journal.

    I love seeing all your swag pictures. Those trading cards are just too cool! And so original as well. It’s amazing to see what authors come up with for swag.

    • OH! I have measuring spoons too, how did I forget those!? Those are AWESOME. I picked up a tote at BEA and they had the spoons in the bag! I LOVE that you used the author pen for your beta reading toO!

      I agree, I LOVE when there is such unique swag, it makes it extra fun 🙂

  8. Haha. I didn’t realize there were water bottles and all that. I’ve never seen that before. Haha. I need to branch out my swag. I have bookmarks and posters and all that jazz.
    Plus, the ass cushions is A+.
    This is another awesome and funny post. LOVE IT

  9. Hilarious! I’m a big fan of jewelry. I’m still sad I lost one of my Golden Snitch earrings. I also lost my Winter gloves, which were super cool because the tips of the fingers were special somehow in a way that meant you could use your phone without taking your gloves off.

    • Aww I am sorry about that! I lost ONE of my Winter gloves. But I think it might be in my room somewhere, in the pit where things go to vanish forever? I wondered what the deal with the fingertips were- though I still don’t quite understand how they worked ?


    Seriously. I AM A PEN HOARDER. YES, I STEAL PENS. XD Seriously. That is my weakness. PENS. I have no idea why but I ALWAYS want to get MOAR! Yes, totes are awesome, too…. BUT PENS! I have pens all over the place. Not just bookish pens, but hotel pens.. 🙂 I just want to have a pen handy, you know. ALL THE TIME. Like for when I want to jot down something. haha

    Seriously, Shannon, this is an awesome post! I love swag, but I don’t really get as much swag. I mean, bookmarks are super useful, too! LOL 🙂

  11. Oh I absolutely LOVE the ass pillow. Not only it’s Magnus Chase on it, it’s also very useful! I also love the term ass pillow 😀
    Sadly, we don’t have a lot of bookish swag in Slovakia, so I’m happy if I get a pretty bookmark or a bag. Those notebooks though are beautiful and I wouldn’t turn down any notebook. 😀

    • Hahhaha thanks! I am sorry that you don’t get much bookish swag, that really stinks. I mean, I get that the cost is probably a lot, but still :/ Someone needs to send a shipment of ass pillows and notebooks to Slovakia, STAT! If I am ever there, I promise to bring some along! 😀

  12. hahah ‘Ass Pillow’ – that’s so genius for a conference though! I would use it all the time. More publishers need to look into this idea. haha I really love the great totes at conferences too.

    In general, I like certain magnets. It depends on the book, but the ones with quotes are awesome! I have a few from BEA on my fridge now, and I have a few from the book Wonder by R.J. Palaccio which I LOVE. That book is great, and the magnets have quotes. yay quotes!


  13. OMG! Yes, I have to agree… this is some pretty amazing swag!!!! I love when publishers up their game and send incredible ARC packages. Soooo much awesome!! I totally want that Passenger notebook, BTW. 🙂

  14. Sorry, I probably missed the rest of the post because I’m still stuck on the nail polish swag. Bookish nail polish swag. Is there anything better? My head is spinning… I think I need to lay down… and dream of one day receiving nail polish swag. *sigh*

  15. Ummmm… this just opened up a whole new world for me??? I’ve literally never gotten any useful swag, not counting bookmarks which I’ve soooort of learned to appreciate a teensy little bit more even if I still don’t use them that much (except for that one magnetic one my friend gave me because IT’S MAGNETIC DUH). I sort of lost it at ass pillow hahaha

    • Bwhahaha well, in fairness, who wouldn’t lose it at ass pillow? And I see a trend in the comments that apparently, you do not get ass pillows overseas. Just another reason that we need a BIG international book event. With ALL the swag. And ummm teleportation, I think. ?

  16. LOVED this post. It’s all so true, too! The nail polish would be prominently displayed in my bathroom, definitely.
    I have that same coffee cup, which the letters peeled off of the first time I washed it in the dishwasher. (Mostly because I only read books, not dishwashing directions.) My favorite swag is probably sticky notes, notebooks, and pens, but I will accept any and all swag!

    • Aww thank you!! Ah, yes, that is the reason that the cup is still unused- I use NOTHING that cannot go in the dishwasher. I mean, why do they even MAKE such things? But it looks cool on my bookshelf, anyway 😉 And I am with you- I will take ALL the swag!!

  17. My favorite item that I have is this really soft blanket I bought from the Society 6 website. It says “Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be.” I love it. I love bookish swag so much. Probably the items that I could most do without are bookmarks. I love them and have several of them, but I rarely read physical books. And when I do, I only read one at a time so I definitely don’t need more than one. But I have quite a few. I can’t help myself!

  18. I HAVE SO MANY T-SHIRTS NOW! GAH! 🙂 It started with just a couple to wear at conventions, but I now own enough to stay clothed for about 2 or 3 weeks.

    I have a Great Women Rulers Ruler. Similar to your 1st ladies ruler, but it is wooden and lists world leaders. Who doesn’t want to know on a daily basis when Cleopatra ruled the Nile?

  19. Ah, this post was so fun to read! I personally never use bookish pins just because I don’t really put them anywhere; I could put them on my backpack but I’m too afraid they could fall off so I don’t). I agree, I ADORE totes and nail polish, because they’re something I actually use in my day to day life! I definitely think I could live without the ruler though; I know that FURTHERMORE by Tahereh Mafi has a ruler as book swag but I just feel like,,,, I don’t know, use a regular ruler? Hahaha, great discussion post anyway!

  20. I totally used the Magnus Chase foam shield as an ass pillow during BEA 2015. It came in handy! I also used it as an extra pillow at my hotel since my pillows were too squishy. It provided some extra support. Overall though, my favorite swag are tote bags. I can’t get enough of totes!

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